Employees reject furlough.
The company's demands came on the heels of a request that the union employees accept a second week of furloughs without pay. The union agreed to a week of furloughs earlier this year, but this time turned it down by a vote of 85-40. The union wanted the company to agree to no more layoffs until the end of the year, rather than just to September 30, but the company refused.
These moves by the company followed its laying off 39 employees in the circulation department. Most were union employees and their work was sent to a non-union newspaper owned by Lee Enterprises in Munster, Ind., where Post publisher Kevin Mowbray was the former publisher.
Last year, the Post outsourced some of its display advertising to India. It contracted with a California firm to send the work to a shop near New Dehli.
The St. Louis Board of Alderman, and officials of some other area communities, recently passed resolutions calling on the Post to stop outsourcing jobs to other states and countries. The aldermanic resolution read in part: ".... be it resolved that the City of St. Louis calls on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which continues to be a profitable enterprise, to reaffirm its commitment to the communities it serves by rejecting the predatory practice of job outsourcing and keeping St. Louis area jobs in St. Louis."
The Post is the largest newspaper in the Lee chain and the only one with significant union membership. Employees feel the company has a goal of eliminating unions at the Post. When Mowbray took over as Post publisher in 2007, he named a 67-member community advisory board but did not include anyone from organized labor.
The only good piece of news the Guild members have gotten recently was a ruling by a federal judge in the Guild's suit to make the company arbitrate on restoring full and free health benefits to retirees. The Post sought to dismiss the Guild's complaint by saying that expired union contracts did not vest retirees with medical benefits. The Guild argued that over the years the union contracts required the company to provide the benefits and the company has always abided by that.